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Sunday, August 9, 2020

Boys State - Documentary Review


The Movie: Boys State

The Directors: Amanda McBaine, Jesse Moss

The Story: A thousand 17-year-old boys from Texas join together to build a representative government from the ground up.

The Review:
Before watching this documentary, I never knew this was a thing that existed and it is quite honestly a bit frightening to see how these young minds are being indoctrinated into the political machine. What the film makers do really well is showing how the seeds of political ideology and opinion are planted from the very beginning. The description of the movie says that the young men are taught to build a government from the ground up but that's really not true at all. Everything about the current two party political system and all of it's morally bankrupt nature is on display during this nearly two hour presentation.

Here are a few direct quotes from a couple of the boys who participate in this program:

"This is a very conservative group. My stance on abortion would not line up well with the guys out there so I chose to pick a new stance. That's politics. I think."

"A message of unity, as good as it sounds and as good as it ultimately is for our country, it's not winning anyone any elections. You have to use personal attacks and you have to find divisive issues in order to differentiate yourself at all."

"I don't hate the man. I never will. I think he's a fantastic politician but I don't think a fantastic politician is a compliment either."

Keep in mind, these are teenagers talking about other teenagers. The level of political nuance they already understand is one of the more shocking things about this story let alone what they are taught over the course of the program. I get the idea that the film makers are intending to shed light on this system and expose it for being just as bad, just as corrupt, and just as racist as the entire national political structure yet I also feel that they left a lot on the table to soften the blow a bit maybe because the subjects are teenagers.

What I didn't see really at all during this documentary is any sort of comment or opinions from the men running the show. Men who clearly have political agendas and, considering this is set in Texas, have very firm value sets that are heavily stamped into the overall program. Basically what this documentary has shown me is how the machine brings people in while they are young, grooms them to fit the already existing narrative, and then places the cream of the crop into a system of oppression that has no intention of making this nation a better place.

If you didn't know, there is a girls version of this camp and I would be very interested to see if that would be as much of a horror story as this one is.


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